Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Iowa State's Wayne Morgan In Middle Of Controversial Basketball Operation. 'I Think [Any Involved] Coach Would Be Putting His Job in Jeopardy'

By Gregg Doyel
CBS Senior Writer

An elaborate recruiting operation that has steered more than $100,000 to a Los Angeles business founded by a prominent junior college coach has stunned the NCAA, the NABC and athletic directors at some of the Division I schools involved.

"I think (any involved) coach would be putting his job in jeopardy," said Jim Haney, president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).

"This is a concern," said Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard.

"I don't want to get into this conversation," said Iona athletic director Pat Lyons.

"I'd imagine we'd be looking into that," said an NCAA official who asked not to be named.

"Oh, my Lord," said Mountain State coach Bob Bolen. "Where did all that money go?"

Bolen's question, ultimately, is at the heart of CBS's investigation into a nationwide system that delivers junior college players to Division I schools. Those schools then play each other in paid "guarantee" games, with a tidy profit going to the company that arranged those games -- a company co-founded by Los Angeles City College coach Mike Miller.

The company is called D1 Scheduling.

According to corporation records filed with the state of California, Miller and Bruce B. Herman founded D1 Scheduling on Aug. 19, 2004. When first asked about D1 Scheduling, Miller told CBS, "You need to call them." Miller later conceded that D1 Scheduling had been his brainchild, but said he's no longer involved.

Schools connected to D1 Scheduling and LACC include Iowa State, Iona, Louisiana Tech, Tennessee State, Howard and Norfolk State. All have signed players from LACC. All have scheduled games between themselves through D1 Scheduling. And though few teams nationwide use outside help to schedule games, D1 Scheduling has turned a business without a market into a profit of at least $150,000 since August 2004.

"I can't imagine an athletic director would want a third party doing the scheduling," said the NABC's Haney.

CBS's investigation shows Iowa State as the operation's centerpiece. Under coach Wayne Morgan, Iowa State has used D1 Scheduling to arrange guarantee games only when they involve other schools who recruit LACC players. Iowa State has one LACC product, Anthony Davis.

Pollard, who came to Iowa State from Wisconsin in September, inherited those contracts from Morgan and the previous administration. Pollard said he didn't know about the link between Iowa State, D1 Scheduling and LACC until it was laid out by CBS

"Iowa State is above this," Pollard said. "Other than the Anthony Davis piece, I don't think (Iowa State) did anything wrong. But the fact that we're associated with something that certainly has the appearance that is less than desirable ... that's a concern."

Pollard issued this statement late today about the mess: “We’re extremely disappointed that our institution has been cast in a negative light as a result of our men’s basketball scheduling practices the past three years. Our athletic administration entered into these agreements at the request of our coaching staff. The administration had the contracts reviewed legally and certainly had no knowledge of potential improprieties related to using their services. In addition, the fees paid to D1 Scheduling were at or below the market value for ‘guarantee’ games. I honestly believe that Iowa State University did not knowingly do anything wrong as it relates to scheduling these non-conference games. But given the appearance of impropriety, we will not enter into any more contracts with D1 Scheduling going forward.”

Morgan said in a statement:

"In reference to the article published today by Gregg Doyel on CBS Sportsline concerning the article on D-1 Scheduling, there has never been a time in the past or present that Iowa State or myself specifically have done anything that was not straightforward, honest, and above board. From the time I arrived at Iowa State, securing a competitive and attractive non-conference schedule has been a big issue. It has not been easy to get highly regarded teams to Ames for non-conference games. D-1 Scheduling enabled us to secure a good non-conference schedule at the median market price. Our non-conference schedule last season was rated 10th nationally. I have never spoken to anyone relative to either financial profit, securing players, or even the actual scheduling of any games."

"Once again, I reiterate that everything that I or Iowa State has done relative to scheduling has been straightforward, honest, and clearly within the bounds of what is normal in scheduling. Our contracts, payments, etc. are a matter of public record, and anyone can look at them and see they are totally legal and within what the scheduling market bears."

"D-1 Scheduling was also explained to our athletics administration and athletic director before its services were used. There are many highly regarded Division I universities that also utilize the services of D-1 Scheduling. They offer a service that saves time and money for these schools."

"In reference to Mr. Doyel’s erroneous allegation concerning D-1 Scheduling and Anthony Davis, I have known and had a close relationship with him since his junior year at Compton Centennial High School in Los Angeles. At the beginning of his senior year, Anthony signed a letter of intent to attend Long Beach State where I was the head coach. When I departed California, Anthony did not want to continue at Long Beach State. He elected to go to Los Angeles City College because their coach, Mike Miller, was considered one of the best junior college coaches in America. When I accepted the job at Iowa State, Anthony wanted to play for me at Iowa State. His attendance at Iowa State has absolutely nothing to do with D-1 Scheduling."

Through freedom of information requests, CBS obtained game contracts from the public schools involved. This is how Iowa State has helped funnel money to D1 Scheduling:

Last season, Iowa State paid D1 Scheduling $40,000 for a home game against Tennessee State. D1 Scheduling paid Tennessee State $10,000. Considering the going rate for such games is at least $40,000, why would TSU sacrifice 75 percent to D1 Scheduling? Perhaps because three of its best players -- Wayne Arnold, Clarence Matthews and Kareem Grant -- came from LACC. Tennessee State AD Teresa Phillips didn't respond to multiple interview requests. Pollard said he's uncomfortable with Iowa State's connection.

"We're associated because we're on the other side of the contact, but if I called Tennessee State (for a game) right now, it would cost me $50,000 or $60,000," he said. "What you're indicating here is (some ISU opponents) were taking far less money than I'd thought ... for another reason that's not a good situation. They're taking nearly $50,000 below market. That's a scary thought isn't it? What it sounds like they're getting is an influx of players."

This season, Iowa State played host to a four-team Thanksgiving tournament. Records show Iowa State paid D1 Scheduling $125,000 to provide Iona, Howard and Portland State. Howard received $13,000, Portland State $15,000. Iona, a private school, declined to divulge its guarantee. If Iona's guarantee was anything like those received by Howard and Portland State, D1 Scheduling would have kept more than $80,000 of Iowa State's $125,000 check. While Iona has no LACC players on roster this season, Gaels coach Jeff Ruland received a commitment from at least six players from LACC since 1999 (Kenya Carruthers, Leland Matthews, Jermaine Small, Terry Sellers, Norman Simmons and Julian Sensley). Howard also recruited Simmons, who never got eligible there, while Portland State has recruited LACC players in recent years but never landed one. Ruland ignored multiple interview requests by Howard and Portland State have changed coaches since those games were arranged. Current Howard coach Gil Jackson said he inherited that $13,000 game at Iowa State for No. 25, 2005, and couldn't believe it.

"Guarantees at that level start at $40,000 and upward," Jackson said. "Now that I'm here, we won't be playing any more games like that."

Also this season, Iowa State played host to an exhibition with Division II Bemidji State of Minnesota, and a regular-season game with NAIA Mountain State of West Virginia. Iowa State used D1 Scheduling for both, sending D1 Scheduling checks totaling $50,000. D1 Scheduling then sent checks totaling $9,000 to Bemidji State and Mountain State, clearing $41,000 for itself. Why would Bemidji and Mountain agree to such a deal? Perhaps because each program has had an LACC player in the last year, Rodney Williams (Bemidji) and Tony Key (Mountain). Mountain's Bolen said he had no idea D1 Scheduling was profiting so much. "I feel stupid," he said. "I wish I got more of it."

For next season, Iowa State is planning another four-team tournament. Pollard said ISU will pay D1 Scheduling $150,000 to find three teams, including Louisiana Tech. Tech athletics director Jim Oakes said his school's cut would be $35,000, meaning a $15,000 profit for D1 Scheduling. Asked why his program -- which includes forwards Chad McKenzie and Michael Wilds from LACC -- was using D1 Scheduling, Oakes deferred comment until speaking with coach Keith Richard.

Several hours later, Oakes said: "Coach Richard assured me he scheduled the tournament at Iowa State in order to play three games, two of which would be on a neutral court. There was certainly no quid pro quo involved in the recruitment of any junior college player."

NCAA spokesman Kent Barrett said his organization doesn't comment on potential recruiting violations at specific schools, but a ranking NCAA official contacted by CBS said the NCAA would look into the link between its member schools, D1 Scheduling and LACC.

Violations could be found, the NCAA official said, if Miller is determined to be a "booster" of Iowa State, Louisiana Tech, etc., due to his assistance in scheduling. A school booster cannot be involved in recruiting.

Miller and Herman were pleasant in interviews with CBS and said D1 Scheduling is not in cahoots with Iowa State or other schools to arrange paid games in exchange for LACC players. They noted LACC has sent players to other schools -- including its best player in years, Sensley, to Hawaii -- that haven't used D1 Scheduling.

"If the angle you're going at is there's some kind of quid pro quo -- there isn't," Miller said. "Business is business, and people are allowed to make money. Looks can be deceiving, because there's no quid pro quo here."

When asked to name a school that has used D1 Scheduling but has no ties to LACC, Herman named three: Kentucky, Nevada and Fresno State. Within 10 minutes, CBS was able to find connections to LACC:

Kentucky: For $55,000, D1 Scheduling arranged Kentucky's Dec. 23 game with Iona, which has recruited LACC players for years. Iona wouldn't say how much of the $55,000 it received. Kentucky executive associate athletics director Rob Mullens said his school was struggling to find a game on that specific date but heard Iona was available. When he called Iona, Mullens said, he was told the Gaels would play the game -- if Kentucky would go through D1 Scheduling.

"We'd never heard of D1 Scheduling," Mullens said. "If D1 Scheduling is doing something inappropriate, we'd never knowingly enter into that kind of arrangement."

Fresno State: For $45,000, D1 Scheduling arranged Fresno State's Jan. 3 game with Iona. Iona won't say how much it received.

Nevada: For $60,000, D1 Scheduling arranged Nevada's Dec. 27 game with Norfolk State, which signed LACC's Casey Gordon in May. As of Wednesday, Norfolk State hadn't provided its contract information. Nevada coach Mark Fox said he was looking in October for a game.

"I don't know how we got connected with Norfolk," Fox said. "I do know Norfolk sent us a contract from D1 Scheduling to finalize details. I'd never heard of them."

Told of those connections, Herman said: "You've got to understand, Miller's got a great program. He has two state championships out of LACC, and his (players) are desirable."

Herman described himself and Miller as "businessmen (who have) owned lots of businesses together. He's a longtime friend of mine, probably 26 years. We used to wheel and deal, trying to make money, going through school."

Another way Miller once made money was through exhibition games.

He said he helped found the L.A. Stars, which played Iowa State in 2003 for $15,000. From 2000-03, the L.A. Stars played San Diego State, which in 2000 signed the best player ever to play for Miller at LACC, future NBA forward Randy Holcomb.

Because of scenarios like that -- Division I schools paying exhibition teams, then signing players connected to those exhibition teams -- the NCAA legislated out such exhibitions in the summer of 2004. Two months later, Miller created D1 Scheduling.

NABC president Haney said his organization champions the cause of coaches -- but couldn't defend a coach who has participated in this particular operation.

"To me, it sounds like one could make the case that (a Division I coach is) paying the intermediary -- which in this scenario we're talking about a junior college coach -- money to get you a player," Haney said. "In essence, you're putting money into the hands of a third party that is involved in recruiting. That's the way it looks, and on the surface it would appear to be problematic at best.

"I think the NCAA staff is smart enough to figure that out. And again, I think it definitely creates problems. If you're an athletics director and you find out this is how you're doing your scheduling, I think the coach would be putting his (job) in jeopardy."

Iowa State's Pollard said he would be speaking with Morgan about D1 Scheduling, LACC and Anthony Davis.

"We'll have a big discussion about it," Pollard said. "And my guess is there will be other discussions around the country after you write your story."

Profit D1 Scheduling Has Made (Select games from 2004-05)
Date Game Home Visitor Profit
11-11-04 Bemidji State-Iowa State $15K $2K $13K
12-31-04 Tennessee State-Iowa State $40K $10K $30K
11-20-05 Mountain State-Iowa State $35K $7K $28K
11-23-05 Portland State-Iowa State $42K $15K $27K
11-25-05 Howard-Iowa State $42K $13K $29K
11-26-05 Iona-Iowa State $41K N/A NA
12-23-05 Iona-Kentucky $55K N/A NA
12-27-05 Norfolk State-Nevada $60K N/A NA
12-28-05 Tennessee State-Iowa State $45K $40K $5K
Fall 2006 Louisiana Tech-Iowa State $50K $35K $15K

Key: Home is the amount to D1 Scheduling from home team. Away is the amount from D1 Scheduling to visitor. Profit is D1 Scheduling profit. Note: D1 Scheduling nets $147,000; total doesn't include profits from both Iona games and the Norfolk State game. Iona, a private school, refused to share that information. After ignoring's request for a month, Norfolk State -- a public school -- was gathering the requested information Wednesday.

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[Pictured clockwise at the top: Mike Miller, Wayne Morgan, Jeff Ruland, Anthony Davis]